American and British English: Differences in Grammar Part 2

Posted by Manjusha Filed in English Writing

Use of the Subjunctive

In American English it is particularly common to use subjunctive after words like essential, vital, important, suggest, insist, demand, recommend, ask, advice etc. (Subjunctive is a special kind of present tense which has no -s in the third person singular. It is commonly used in that clauses after words which express the idea that something is important or desirable.) In British English the subjunctive is formal and unusual. British people normally use should + Infinitive or ordinary present and past tenses.

Collective Nouns

Collective nouns like jury, team, family, government etc., can take both singular and plural verbs in British English. In American English they normally take a singular verb.

Auxiliary verb + do

In British English it is common to use do as a substitute verb after an auxiliary verb. Americans do not normally use do after an auxiliary verb.

As if/ like

In American English it is common to use like instead of as if/ as though. This is not correct in British English.

In American English it is also common to use were instead of was in unreal comparisons.

The indefinite pronoun One

Americans normally use he/she, him/her, his/her to refer back to one. In British English one is used throughout the sentence.

Mid position adverbs

In American English mid position adverbs are placed before auxiliary verbs and other verbs. In British English they are placed after auxiliary verbs and before other verbs.

Sections in this article

American and British English: differences in grammar - I
American and British English: differences in grammar - II
American and British English: differences in vocabulary - I
American and British English: differences in vocabulary - II
American and British English: differences in usage - I
American and British English: differences in usage - II
American and British English: differences in spelling